Conference Speakers: Biographies

Published:  13 June, 2013

Read all about the full list of top speakers at this year's All-Industry Conference.


Ben Shephard spent 10 years waking up the nation on the GMTV sofa, and is now an anchor at Sky Sports, covering the Champions League and League Cup, as well as co-presenting Goals on Sunday. He is currently the face of ITV quiz show Tipping Point, and co-hosts the What's Cooking TV cookery show with actress Lisa Faulkner. Mr Shephard has broken four Guinness World Records and loves endurance and extreme sports. In the past 10 years he has completed 14 marathons, run across the UK twice and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. He also presents programmes involving spectacular challenges and high-profile entertainment. He is an active patron of charities that work to better the lives of children and young people.

Business & Economics Speakers:

Rt Hon Michael Portillo worked for the Conservative Party during the 1980s and 1990s and was a government minister for 11 years, holding three positions in the Cabinet. Since leaving politics he has become a well-known British businessman, politician and broadcaster. He commentates on political and current affairs, and also writes and presents television and radio programmes on topics including railways, industrial heritage, social justice, art and music.

Dianne Thompson is CEO of Camelot Group of Companies, which operates the UK National Lottery. Ms Thompson has driven Camelot’s strategy for responsible growth and successfully bid for the National Lottery’s third licence period. Since Ms Thompson became CEO in December 2000, National Lottery sales have increased by 35%. Previously, Ms Thompson has worked for companies such as Woolworths, ICI Paints, Sandvik Saws & Tools, Sterling Roncraft and Signet Group.

Mark Berrisford-Smith is head of economics for HSBC’s commercial banking business in the UK. He is responsible for advising the bank and its business customers on global economic developments, in particular monitoring the performance of European countries and China. Interests and hobbies include hill-walking, cycling, the England cricket team and fine wines.

Richard Robinson is director B2B markets for Google, where he helps businesses develop and implement highly-effective digital strategies. Prior to Google, Mr Robinson was vice president at IDC, where he led the company's consulting and marketing services business in Europe.

Jonathan Austin is the man behind the Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For lists. He has also built successful businesses in fields such as industrial filtration and events marketing. He has worked for companies including Microsoft, Mercedes Benz and Iceland, and has served on the National Employment Panel advising the government on welfare to work policies. His experience as a CEO gives him a unique perspective on leadership and management, at a time when its importance is most critical to business survival and success.

Dr Dorian Dugmore PhD is an international expert in cardiovascular and exercise medicine as applied to the treatment and prevention of heart isease. He was formerly the Director of the Toronto Rehabilitation Centre in Canada, considered the best in the world for cardiac rehabilitation. He has written and published extensively on the topics of exercise and heart disease and his programmes have won world and European Best Practice awards for corporate wellness.

Construction Industry Speakers:

Garry McDonald is procurement and sustainability director of Miller Homes, with responsibility for the business’ supply chain, product development, corporate responsibility strategy and customer satisfaction. Mr McDonald placed particular focus on developing long-term relationships by adopting a genuine partnership approach in the supply chain. He has also played a key role in driving sustainability in the business, and is currently involved with the Zero Carbon Hub.

Simon Blaxill is a well-respected figure in the industry with a wealth of experience in merchanting. He is managing director of Kent Blaxill, a family-run independent builders’ merchant with eight sites across East Anglia. Previously, Mr Blaxill worked in market research and for the Sellotape brand. He has been managing director at Kent Blaxill since 1989.

Andy Williamson is group managing director of IKO. A passionate supporter of the merchant industry, Mr Williamson served on the board of the BMF for six years, helping to set the foundations of the BMF's future. He was invited to become a freeman of the Worshipful Company of Builders’ Merchants in 2008. Before joining IKO, Mr Williamson also worked for Henkel and Yale Chubb Union.

Peter Hindle MBE has spent four decades in the merchant market and is now a key senior executive of Saint-Gobain. Mr Hindle understands the roots of the merchant industry and the needs of merchant customers, and the evolution of the merchant industry at a time of significant change as the e-revolution gathers momentum. In his career he has worked in both independent and national merchants and, in 2009, was awarded an MBE for services to teh building industry and charity. The Saint-Gobain Together programme has raised over £2 million to date for various charities.

David Kilburn is chief executive of MKM Building Supplies, the largest independent UK builders’ merchant. He has overseen the growth of the company from its beginnings in 1995, and has been working in the merchant industry for over 40 years.

Lorcan Anglin is founder of Green Energy Centre Ltd. Previously he was managing director of Pagets Builders Merchants in Sheffield, and has also served on the Unimer Board, the management committee of h&b, and on various merchant/supplier negotiating committees.

Jennie Ward is group editor of Builders' Merchants News magazine, and chair of this year's Builders' Merchants Awards for Excellence. Miss Ward has been writing and editing trade magazines in the construction sector for over 12 years, and joined the BMN team in February 2013. She is also responsible for Heating, Ventilating & Plumbing magazine.

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